10 Affordable Restaurants to Visit in Bologna

Bologna! One of the great culinary capitals of the world, where it’s hard to rival the land’s amazing produce.. from cheese to balsamic vinegar, sparkling wines and pasta, makes sure you pack some stretchy pants..  as you will be doing a lot of eating.

This is the place that I enrolled in not just one, but 3 cooking classes.. and for someone who doesn’t really cook, that’s saying a lot!


Anyway, spending 2 weeks in the heart of Bologna, as well as Reggio Emilia and Rimini, we managed to get a lot of eating done, to say the least. Right now,we want to focus on Bologna first.. so here are our top 10 places to go for great food, at affordable prices!

1. Vini D’Italia

One of the best meals in Bologna happened on the very first night, and set the tone for the rest of the trip. And the first things I learned, as a form of induction into Italian cuisine, was the correct name for popular Italian dishes and condiments.


Ask for Spaghetti Bolognase in Bologna and be prepared to get a spanking. I am quickly told it’s Tagliatelle al Ragu. Also, it ain’t parmesan, it’s Parmigiano Reggiano, It’s not ice cream, it’s Gelato.

There, now we’ve got the jargon correct and out-of-the-way, let’s eat!


crostino bologna of ragu & parmigiano reggiano


Vini D’Italia is one of those restaurants you will immediately feel right at home in. It’s warm and unpretentious. And the thing to order here would be the Tortellini in Brodo di Gallina. Resembling a woman’s navel, these tiny toothsome tortellini (typically stuffed with a mix of meat -pork loin, prosciutto, with cheese), swimming in a clear chicken consommé might look plain,  but will simply be one of those life-changing meals you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing, should you order it.


All you need is a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano to elevate the flavour in this dish..  Priced at only €12, a real steal!


Friendly and efficient staff made this dining experience a lovely one


Also a big highlight was a simple starter of bread (crostino) of Pancetta, Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico, heavily baptized in Parmesan cheese.. unctuous, melt in your mouth Italian bacon made of pork belly meat that is salt cured and spiced with black pepper and spices was the bomb. For a good variety, order the crostino bologna of ragu parmigiano reggiano, as well as tomatoes and mozzarella.


Even the beef cheek dish drenched in a Barolo (red wine) sauce was terrific here, not to mention desserts of Zuppa Inglese and The Chocolate Salumi Sandwich – There’s no salami in it, but it resembles a savory sandwich, hence the name.


Zuppa Inglese – an Italian dessert layering custard and sponge cake


Super thick yet smooth, chocolaty mousse sandwiched in between brioche bread


Address: Via Emilia Levante, 142, 40139 Bologna, Italy
Phone:+39 051 541509
Hours: Open today · 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 6:30 pm – 1:30 am

2. Trattoria Anna Maria

This gorgeous little place that looks like the archetypal Italian trattoria, has been serving the finest, hearty Italian dishes in Bologna for 26 years now, and then some.


Although prices may be a bit above average – €28 for two hearty courses – you are assured of an unforgettable meal. You will be hard pressed to fine free wall space in this cosy restaurant, as they are dotted with all sorts of photos of famous people, such as Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, some of whom have graced this restaurant back in the day, no doubt.


The best things in life are simple, so please do yourselves a favor and order the Tortelloni burro e salvia (butter & sage) as well as the Tagliatelle al Ragu.


Bologna is after all the birthplace of these two exquisitely delicious yet simple dishes. Another must order is the Vitello Tonnato – Paper thin veal slathered in tuna, served with capers and lemon. Sublime!


Add:17 Via delle Belle Arte,
Phone +39 51 266894

3. Le Sfogline @ Via Belvedere

Go for some kickass pizza at Le Sfogline, just outside the market place in Bologna central.  Le Sfogline on Via Belvedere is a rather quaint and cool little shop.. which is really a fresh pasta factory that’s located opposite the Herb Market in Bologna.


In the evenings, Via Belvedere’s square, just outside the market place, is filled with tables & chairs, and stalls selling pastas, pizzas, bruschettas, wines and beers.



It has a younger vibe about it, and lot of folks can be seen milling about ordering drinks, starters on skewers, even Chinese dimsum, such as dumplings and bao, while enjoying live music as they wait for dinner to arrive.



Day 2 Bologna - Two Towers

Shiny, happy, people .. eating & drinking their fill! 

Le Sfogline is also the place for pasta cooking class, which I had the pleasure of trying my hand at under the expert hand of Monica. This class is highly recommended for those who want to learn how to make pasta the only true way!


Address: Via Belvedere, 7, Bologna BO, Italy
Phone:+39 051 220558
Hours: Open today · 8:30 am – 7:30 pm

4. Rocca Sforzesca Di Dozza

Dozza is an Italian comune in the province of Bologna. Located less than 40 km outside of Bologna, the village of Dozza, with a population of approximately 6,000 only, is truly a hidden gem in the Emilia-Romagna region.


Although it only takes a 5 minutes to walk from one end of the town to the other, one could easily spend hours admiring the art and the charming architecture and art paintings on the walls of every street corner.


artworks adorn the walls 


most painting state the name of the painter to whom the work belongs..


my favourite was this one called ” “The Roots of Thinking” by Alberto Zamboni

We stopped at a quaint little restaurant within the town and had some remarkably delicious, hearty cuisine of the land. Antipasto platters or house-cured meats are a must order.

This is a great place to catch your breath after a stroll through the village, with an Aperol Spritz. Order the Piadina, Gnocco fritz, Parma ham served with raspberry onion jam and cream cheese.. Or even a platter of mixed Crostini of Peas & Ragu, Asparagus and Grilled Pancetta, Mushroom and meaty minced pork that resembled spam.


asparagus and grilled pancetta  – super delicious!


One of my biggest addictions this trip was the Gnocco eaten with salami, especially Culatello – heart of the best parma ham. The gnocco is a fried dough parcel that’s chewy and billowy yet slightly crispy on the edges. It’s incredibly addictive and goes perfect with all forms of salumi.


Gnocco with cullatello or cream cheese and jam.. super delicious! 

Add: Piazzale Rocca 40060 Dozza BO
Phone : +39 0542 678240

5. Ristorante Da Cesari

This restaurant that has been around for more than 60 years, is famous for their Rabbit stuffed Green Ravioli with Smoked Goat Cheese, Veal with Truffles, Ricotta stuffed Tortelloni with butter and shaved Black Truffle and desserts such as panna cotta.



rabbit stuffed green ravioli, stuffed with smoked goat cheese

Veal extravagantly coated in shaving of black truffles.. the heady, earthy aroma was intoxicating! 


Prawn salad – mouthwateringly luscious with orange slices, olives and lemon juice 


Foie Gras terrine – incredibly smooth and unctous 


Tagliatelle al Ragu


This italian classic is usually, thick, creamy, super sweet and drenched in caramel sauce.

Address: Via Dè Carbonesi, 8, 40123 Bologna, Italy
Phone:+39 051 237710
Hours: Open today · 12:30 – 2:30 pm, 7:30 – 10:30 pm

6. Mercato di Mezzo

This is a great place to visit for Aperitivo hour, and a must order is the Lambruspritz – a mixture of Lambrusco wine and spritz.


Once upon a time, a pre-dinner drink in Italy meant an aperitif served with a bowl of nuts or potato chips and some juicy green olives. Today the tradition has morphed into a nightly phenomenon of complimentary buffet spreads so lavish that one might even skip dinner after! You just pay for your drinks, and the tapas is free.


Classic aperitivos include a spritz (Aperol or Campari and prosecco) or a Negroni (Campari, Martini Rosso vermouth and gin), the Americano (Campari, Martini Rosso vermouth and soda). But the coolest drink at Mercato di Mezzo is the Lambruspritz – a mixture of Lambrusco wine and spritz. It certainly hits the spot on a humid summer’s evening!


Mercato di Mezzo, located in the heart of the medieval part of Bologna, hosts many shops, deli’s, including a fishmonger’s, a double-storey butcher’s and a large meeting hall dedicated exclusively to local artisans.


Mercato di Mezzo also stamps its mark on Bologna, reinforcing the “City of Food” theme. This is in line with the forthcoming FICO (Agricultural Italian Factory) complex, which is due to open mid of 2016, which will represent an international hub for many different initiatives fostering the high quality of Italian wines and food traditions. We look forward to covering this event very soon indeed!

Mercato di Mezzo
Address: Via Drapperie, Bologna, Italy

7. Trattoria Il Portico

Walking around the city center, we chanced upon this place located near the famous area where folks stop to gaze into a small window in the wall, that reveals one of the many canals – approximately 60km of hidden canals that run through Bologna.


Trattoria Il Portico is located just round the corner from this area.

Visit this restaurant for the fresh salmon and seafood salads.


This place also does a supremely tender veal with gorgeous porcini mushrooms.


Also the boozy Italian smoothie, called the Sgroppino al Limone is a must try – Whipped lemon Sorbet, vodka, prosecco & lemon zest. Superb for a hot summer day.


Bologna can do no wrong, when it come to the Panna Cotta. Decadent and thick enough to stand a spoon in it, this dessert is just goddamn beautiful!

Address: Via Augusto Righi, 11, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Phone:+39 051 221185
Hours: Open today · 12:00 – 3:00 pm, 6:30 pm – 12:00 am

8. Caffè Sette Chiese

Set in the most gorgeous and historic piazza in Bologna, this place is like 2 minutes from Piazza Maggiore.

Spaghetti Gambaretti


This cool restaurant is great for burgers, cold cuts of meat, cheeses for aperitivo, salads and pasta. Located near Piazza Santo Stefano this is the place to share a bottle of wine, and watch the world go by.


When hamburgers are mentioned on the menu in Bologna, I noticed that they normally serve you just the patty, usually. In this case, I got the entire burger, buns and all at this restaurant.


Coffee sorbet & fresh cream hits the spot on a hot day in Bologna! 

Address: Via Santo Stefano, 15, Bologna, Italy
Hours: Open today · 7:00 am – 2:00 am

9. Osteria Marsalino

While contemporary in outlook, this restaurant also does classic pasta dishes accompanied by excellent wines. If you plan to eat outdoors, get there early, otherwise you might end up eating indoors in a tiny restaurant cum bar space. Expect jazz funk tunes and a laid back vibe that will entice you to linger here all evening.


Sage pasta – a must order! 

This place is also famous for their organic meals, or lighter dishes.


packed to the rafters on most evenings


Top picks are pasta dishes, also the risotto alle fragole (strawberry risotto), a “kmzero” caprese salad or a bowl of farro – spelt with courgettes, baby shrimps and soy sauce. They do great organic burgers here too, at affordable prices – €6 for a pasta or salad, €7 for a main course.


delectable roast beef salad


Hamburger grilled with cheese and tomatoes.. minus the buns!

Address: Via Marsala, 13, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Phone:+39 051 238675
Hours: Open today · 12:00 pm – 2:00 am

10. Trattoria La Corte Galluzzi

Tucked away in a tiny little piazzetta behind the main square is Trattoria La Corte Galluzzi.


This is the perfect spot, in the shadow of a clock tower, to taste all of the culinary specialties for which Bologna is so famous. Terrific Beef Carpaccio, Lasagna and Veal Scallopine is served here.


Lasagna… rich bechamel poured atop three-meat lasagna.. Filling and satisfying! 


Roast beef salad


Veal Scallopine & porcini mushrooms are a match made in heaven –  adding a wonderful rich pungency to a light cut like veal is just too good for words.. this is a must order!

Address: Corte De Galluzzi, 7/B, 40123 Bologna, Italy
Phone:+39 051 226481
Hours: Open today · 12:00 – 3:00 pm, 7:00 – 11:00 pm

My trip to Emilia Romagna is part of the #Blogville campaign, a collaboration between the Emilia Romagna Region Tourist Board and iAmbassador. As always, CCFoodTravel maintains full editorial control over the blog.

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